Friday, 24 April 2015

Vegan peach cheesecake

We were short on time for dinner.  I took out a tub of rice from the freezer.  Only, when I opened the lid after defrosting, I found it was the stewed peaches I had earmarked for Kari's Raw Apple Cheesecake Pudding.  Which means it was time to make the cheesecake.  The peaches just wouldn't wait any longer.

The peaches were stewed towards the end of summer and I had tired of them.  When I saw Kari post her cheesecake pudding, I decided to make it with the peaches.  But the kitchen was busy with holiday and birthday baking.  So I put the peaches away for a day when we weren't inundated by treats.

It was easy to make and delicious to eat.  As I am a bit wary of coconut oil, I just added dessicated coconut for instead of oil.  My high speed blender made a very smooth mixture of the ingredients.  Kari preferred a bit of texture which might be why her mixture seems firmer than mine.  Or it might be that she added raw apple rather than stewed peaches.  I added some nutritional yeast flakes and salt for that slightly savoury taste of cheesecake.  It was mostly fruity and creamy but very pleasing.

As Kari noted, it wasn't a set cheesecake so she called it a pudding.  I am happy to call it a cheesecake but enjoyed serving it in jars.  Sadly I didn't have cute little jars like Kari.  Hers was a raw cheesecake but as my peaches were stewed it wasn't raw.  Perhaps I will try it with raw fruit another time.

Serendipitously as I made these I was listening to a woman on the radio talking about World Allergy Day (17 April).  They talked a lot about hayfever.  However I thought it relevant as these are dairy free, egg free, and soy free.  There are so many allergies out there.  They are not nut free but for those like my daughter who can't eat peanuts but can eat other nuts, they are fine.

I ate them mostly for breakfast.  They are quite nutrient-dense with all the nuts and dates but they were very satisfying.  Of course, they would also make a great dessert.

Lastly if you read Kari's post, you will see that she posted this cheesecake recipe as part of her London Marathon fundraising effort.  She has posted lots of great recipes as part of her fundraising for Beat, a UK eating disorder charity.  On Sundahy she runs her marathon.  I wish her best of luck and encourage you to make a donation if you are able to.  And I hope she has some good food like this cheesecake afterwards!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Southwestern stuffed spaghetti squash
Two year ago: Apple cider cake
Three years ago: Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts
Four years ago: Why Does Food History Matter?
Five years ago: Curried Paneer and Birthday Cheer
Six years ago: Tempting prune cake
Seven years ago: ANZAC Day and the Biscuit Police
Vegan Peach Cheesecake
Adapted from Bite Sized Thoughts
serves 4 to 6

1/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/3 cup (about 3) medjool dates, stoned

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
scant cup of stewed peaches*
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Make the base by blending all ingredients in blender or food processor until it can clump together.  Press into 4 to 6 small jars or glasses.  (I used the tamper from my blender.)  To make the filling, blend all ingredients until smooth.  (A little bit of texture is fine.)  Divide among glasses or jars (and screw lid on if there is one).  Chill in the fridge.  Keeps refridgerated for 5 days or can be frozen to keep longer.

NOTES: My stewed peaches were not terribly sweet.  I made them months ago and could not remember what they had in them by the time I got them out of the freezer - I think they had brown sugar and lemon juice.

On the Stereo:
Studio: Cowboy Junkies

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Vegetarian Japanese Curry

When I was a student, we had a Japanese student stay with us briefly.  She cooked us lots of amazing meals.  It was my first experience of how interesting Japanese food could be.  Often Japanese restaurants have not seemed as good as her dishes.  Junko never made me Japanese curry but it is one of the more pleasing Japanese dishes I have had in restaurants.  So I was keen to try it at home.

Sometimes it is only in making it myself that I understand a dish.  Indeed understanding how Japanese curries differ from others I have had came from making it.  It is more like an Indian curry than a Thai curry but is made like a soup with a lot of the flavour and texture coming from stirring in a roux.

I followed the recipe by Rika of Vegan Miam.  She has such lovely photos that draw me in. Then, the geek in me wanted to check if her recipe was typical.  So I did a quick search for other Japanese curry recipes.  I was surprised to read that many people just buy the roux rather than making it.  I was happy to do as Rika did and make it myself.

I was interested that recipes for Japanese curries suggested different flavourings to add including Worcestershire sauce, red wine, apricot jam, miso, maple syrup, ketchup, honey and chocolate.  I would like to try it with chocolate one day.  This curry had some apricot jam that was on hand.

More mysterious was the Oriental curry powder that Rika used.  I have never heard of it and just used the Keen's curry powder that I had in the cupboard.  Our curry was quite hot, though not unpleasantly so.  A few people noted that Japanese curries are quite mild.  So I checked for Oriental curry powder in the supermarket and only found a roux for a Japanese curry.  But as it had palm oil and MSG I don't know that I will be rushing out to buy it. 

We ate this on the school holidays.  It was a chaotic night after a trip to the park with Sylvia's school friends.  I searched high and low for black sesame seeds but they were nowhere to be found.  I discovered them in the back of the cupboard last night.  Maybe it is a sign that I need to make Japanese curry again.

I am sending this curry to:

More Japanese-style recipes:

Avocado, pickled ginger and tofu soba noodle salad (gf, v)
Japanese snow pea salad (gf, v)
Japanese-style pumpkin, sprouts and tofu soup (gf, v)
Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado (gf, v)
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame (gf, v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v)

Japanese Curry
Adapted from Vegan Miam
serves 4-6

1-2 tbsp any neutral oil (I used rice bran)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
1 small apple, peeled, and grated
2 tsp curry powder*
1/4 cup tamari
1 tsp salt, or to taste
125g tin of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
300g pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup frozen broadbeans (or edamame)

3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
1/4 cup plain flour
1-3 tsp curry powder*
1 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp apricot jam

2 spring onions, sliced
black sesame seeds

Heat oil in a stockpot or large saucepan.  Cook onion and carrots for 5 to 10 minutes until vegetables soften.  Stir the garlic in for a minute and then add remaining ingredients except broad beans.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile make the roux. Stir together the curry powder, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and apricot jam and set aside.  Fry together the oil and flour until it slightly browns and smells cooked.  Add the curry powder mixture and stir until smooth.  Add a ladleful or two of liquid from the curry and stir roux until smooth.

Tip roux into curry and also add broad beans.  Gently simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently, until roux incorporated and broad beans warmed through.  Garnish with spring onions and black sesame seeds if desired

NOTES:  For traditional curry, use a Japanese Oriental curry powder (such as S and B).  I used Keens curry powder which is more Indian.  It worked well but was quite spicy with 1 tbsp of curry powder in the roux.  Perhaps less curry powder is needed with Keens, hence my suggestion of between 1 to 3 tsp depending on the curry powder used.

On the Stereo:
Born to Die: Lana Del Ray

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Ruckers Hill Cafe and Ukelele Festival

It was the old record player re-purposed as a cafe table that first caught my attention as I walked past Ruckers Hill Cafe.  We had just had a nightmare finding parking in Northcote.  If there was a parking spot we missed it and then it was gone when we returned, or someone took it from under our nose.  Finally we rushed down Northcote High Street to meet E who was volunteering at the Ukelele Festival.  I suggested we backtrack to Ruckers Hill Cafe and was very glad I did.

It is not a huge cafe.  There wasn't much room inside so we saw on a bench outside.  We ordered Zucchini and Carrot Fritters for E (above) and Olive Cream Cheese Slice for me (below) and Cheese Toastie for Sylvia (not pictured).  In keeping with the ambiance of the cafe, everything was presented beautifully with lots of colourful and healthy vegetables.

I am not usually a fan of these eggy slices but was delighted with this one that had interesting add-ins, lots of flavour and a generous pile of salad on the side.  While the salad had a lot of lettuce, it had a great dressing that made me happy to eat my way through it.  My slice had big blobs of mild cream cheese in it which were well balanced by the olives. 

It was a great place to sit.  We saw lots of fellow ukelele players as we watched the passers-by.  Some stopped to chat.  Others gave us a big smile and an entertaining remark as they rushed by.  The waitress was friendly as we talked to her about the Studio Ghibli films.  I even liked that we could go in and look at the old piano as we waited.  If we had had more time we might have stayed for dessert and one of the interesting juices.

We had a ukelele performance to go to and then found ourselves at Yuni's Kitchen for a drink.  Actually E and Sylvia had a drink and I had a wander around the shops.  Before I went I checked out the menu and we agreed we should return to eat there some day.

Yuni's Kitchen has a lovely courtyard with a painting of a dove one one side and the Chalice Church on the other.  I was fascinated by the quinces and pomegranates growing at the side of the church.  Are they for passers-by or does the church or the cafe use them?

Whatever their purpose it added a really nice touch to a leafy courtyard with shade cloth and lots of space for kids to run around.  We could also hear the faint sounds of ukelele performances in the church.

We then went to see E play at the Shellac Gallery.  It was great to see him playing solo and to hear him performs songs I have heard him practicing in the bedroom.  And I had a catch up with my friend Heather.

While at the Shellac Gallery we were also able to check out the ukelele artwork.  I really liked the above black and yellow ukelele which was decorated with pasta.  Then we had promised Sylvia some time browsing the beautiful toys in the Big Dreams shop.

By then I was ready to go home.  E stayed on for more gigs but I was so tired that I took Sylvia to buy some chips from the Fish and Chip shop (Abdul's Halal Takeaway) on Elizabeth Street, Preston to take home for dinner. 

Luckily the staff were kind and honest.  I absent-mindedly left both my purse and Sylvia's dolly behind as we left but someone came out to let us know.  Then we collapsed at home with excellent hot chips and corn jacks.

Ruckers Hill Cafe
212 High Street
Open Tue-Fri: 7:30am-3:30pm, Sat: 8:30am-3:30pm, Sun: :900am-3:30pm

Ruckers Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Vegan salmon pate - for dip or sushi

Isn't it great when the weather is warm and you spend the afternoon in the park under a large shady tree with a crowd of bloggers and heaps of good food!  In March, two of my favourite bloggers, Cindy and Michael of Where's the Beef, had invited us along to a potluck picnic to celebrate their 2000th post.  I took along some vegan salmon sushi and zucchini brownie topped with coconut bacon.

We make sushi quite often in our house.  Sylvia loves it but does not like any filling other than sushi rice.  I decided it would be a good savoury dish to take to the picnic.  I could make some plain for Sylvia and experiment with some vegan salmon filling for those what wanted something different.  And bloggers love trying a new dish.

Salmon is often offered as a filling in the little sushi shops in food halls.  I was never keen on fish and seafood.  In particular, I have disliked the idea of eating salmon ever since a friend had food poisoning from it when I was a university student.  Yet I do love its brilliant orange colour.  So please don't ask me if the pate compares to salmon.  I have no idea.  It wasn't quite as brilliantly orange as I had hoped but was rather pleasing nevertheless.  And it tasted very good in that nutty, carroty, dilly way.

I made the brownie the night before.  On the day of the picnic I made the ganache, the pate and the sushi.  By the time we arrived the party was in full swing.  I didn't take lots of photos because I was busy eating and chatting with other bloggers.  Fortunately E took the above photo of the picnic so you can see what a lovely location it was.

There was so much food.  I tried to sample bits of it but it seemed there was so much I didn't get to taste.  Cindy and Michael brought along their amazing sausage rolls.  I really loved tasting some myoki vegan cheese (pictured below) and Faye's vegan dill cheese.  There were heaps of salads, banh mi, dips and lots more.  (I didn't take enough note to report more.)

Dessert was every bit as splendid a spread.  I couldn't resist tasting a vegan chocolate ripple cake made with coconut cream (pictured above).  I also loved the chocolate caramel slice and some bounty bites.  Linda and daughter brought some lovely choc chip muffins and Rosalie brought some of her brownie that I regretted not trying.  It was great to taste Faye's Greek no-honey walnut cakes (‘Melomakarona’) - they are really delicious.  I didn't take great notes so I am sure I have left out other delicious dishes.  You can see more photos at Faye's Veganopoulous blog.

Yes it was all very intense and decadent.  Fortunately Ivan brought along some fresh figs from the backyard.  And it was hard to focus on the food when catching up with old friends and meeting some bloggers for the first time.  We talked about chickpea brine meringues, facebook vegan groups, vegans in the airforce, worm farms, and the supreme master at Loving Hut.

I am always a little wary of going along to these bloggers potlucks.  But despite some nerves about if I will know anyone, I always find it is great to meet up with online friends and that everyone is very friendly.  I went home with some figs as well as some leftovers of Faye's dill cheese and walnut biscuits.  We still had more vegan salmon pate in the fridge that taste very nice on fresh bread.

I am sending this vegan salmon pate to
Jac at Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes,
Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks for Healthy Vegan Fridays #43, and
Cindy at Gluten Free Mama for Gluten Free Fridays #138.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: NCR Pumpkin, bean and apple soup for a protest
Two year ago: WSC Chocolate Chip and Honey Scones
Three years ago: Chocolate Rasbperry Almond Cake amid the chaos
Four years ago: Autumn Apple Cake
Five years ago: NCR Very Garlicky Vegetable Soup
Six years ago: Easter Nut Roast and Feasting
Seven years ago: NCR Moody Mushroom Stew

Vegan Salmon Pate
Adapted from Food and Yoga for Life

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 30 minutes*
1 cup walnuts
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots*
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp dulse flakes
1/2 tsp salt (I used wild garlic salt)
1 spring onion, finely sliced
scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Roughly blend drained sunflower seeds, walnuts and 3/4 of the carrots in a blender or food processor*.  Add vinegar, lemon juice, tamari, dulse flakes and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Add spring onion, dill and remaining 1/4 cup of carrots.  Pulse until these are roughly chopped and combined.

*NOTES: The sunflower seeds can be soaked while you gather and chop ingredients for the recipe.  The recipe I used said 1 scant cup of carrots but I used a heaped cup.  I used my high speed blender which was ok but needed a bit of prodding.  A good food processor would probably work better.  

Vegan Salmon Sushi

To make vegan salmon sushi, I simmer 1 cup of sushi rice and 1 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes with lid on and no stirring.  I stir sushi seasoning into the hot cooked rice, cool it and then spread it on sheets of nori.  Spread salmon pate in the middle with some cucumber sticks.  Roll up and slice with a sharp knife.

On the Stereo:
Key: Victoria Vox

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Dulce de leche choc chip cookies for the end of the holidays

After Easter lunch my mum sorted out the leftovers and told me she was throwing out the remains of the filling she made for the caramel tart.  I couldn't bear to see the luscious creamy dreamy caramel go to waste so I volunteered to take it.  Then, like my mum, I wondered what on earth I would do with it.  We have had enough chocolate and hot cross buns over Easter.  Decadent caramel chocolate concoction seemed just too much.  But perhaps a few choc chip cookies to use up Easter eggs would be alright.

The biscuits were not as indulgent as last year's leftover chocolate easter egg slice.  However I confess that yet again, I stashed away some eggs especially (eggspecially) for baking.  There is something so much more fun about baking with colourful chocolate.  Even better, when I started to chop up the little M and M easter eggs, I found they had crispy insides. 

I looked around at choc chip cookie recipes and ideas for adding dulce de leche.  Most recipes are for biscuits stuffed with dulce de leche in the middle but I really liked the recipe at Mind Over Batter that mixed it into the batter for extra flavour.  I had so many white chocolate melts leftover from the Easter egg chicks that I was generous with the salt in an effort to avoid them being overwhelmingly sweet.

I used a favourite condensed milk choc chip cookies recipe that I have often made with leftover condensed milk.  It was easy, eggless and smelled amazing while the biscuits were baking.

As mentioned at the top of the post, we have feasted on enough Easter chocolate and hot cross buns to last us a lifetime.  Most of these cookies went straight into the freezer to be eaten occasionally when we need a sweet snack.  They last so much longer that way.

The other reason I wanted to bake these biscuits is that I thought they would be good for the school lunchbox.  Sylvia has delighted in hoarding a little stash of Easter eggs that she received.  Yet when I put a cookie in her lunch box on the first day of school term yesterday she told me told me she would much prefer ANZAC biscuits.  Kids!

And with the end of the school holidays I will leave you with some photos and words to sum up the fun we had: the zoo, autumn leaves, Easter, weaving, craft, play dates, cinema, sleepovers, monkey bars, cousins, Phoenix park, bike rides, friends, queues, playgrounds, dolls, swimming, chocolate, baking.

I am sending this recipe that rescued the caramel to Elizabeth's Kitchen for the No Waste Food Challenge.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Red peppers: in pasta bake, stuffed and in soup
Two year ago: NCR Smoky spicy tomato soup
Three years ago: Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts
Four years ago: NCR Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac
Five years ago: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
Six years ago: Tupperware, Arran and Tomato Soup
Seven years ago: Family Favourite: Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate chip cookies with dulce de leche
Adapted from this recipe on Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes about 48 cookies

180g butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dulce de leche
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
300-350g assorted chopped chocolate/Easter eggs/choc chips

Cream butter and maple syrup.  Beat in dulce de leche and salt.  Gently mix in flour then chocolate.  Drop heaped teaspoons on baking paper lined oven trays.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown on the edges.  Rest 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (I keep them on the baking paper while cooling). 

On the Stereo:
Excuses for Travellers: Mojave 3

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Carrot and feta nut roast for Easter lunch

I went to bed on Good Friday night dreaming of the nut roast I would make the next day to take to Easter Sunday lunch at my parents' place in Geelong.  I lay awake with visions of nut roast stuffed with mushrooms and leeks.  Only problem was that this would need a quick trip to the supermarket before a children's party and the drive to Geelong.  I woke to face the reality that I just had to make do with what I had.  A quick Google search found me rearranging my nut roast vision to carrot and feta.

E loves to say that our fridge is full of things he can't eat.  H might well be right but I often find that, when I make do with what is there, our fridge is full of good things to cook.  I was quite impressed with what it could produce.

We always have carrots.  I find them quite boring most of the time.  Necessary but in a background sort of way.  Occasionally I made a dish where their vibrant orange delights me and I really love their flavour.  This was just such a dish.  Which was fitting as I made it on International Carrot Day.  And the Easter Bunny loves carrots.

It was bright flavoured.  If there is such a thing.  Nut roasts are so often heavy in flavour that they need a chutney or sauce to lift them.  This one was brilliant on its own.  The carrot flavour was strong and sweet which worked well with the intense saltiness of the feta.

I reheated it in the oven on a pretty green dish - worried it might bread because I had already broken one of my mum's bowls the previous night.  Then I sliced it up, served myself and left it to the family.  No photos because dinner was the usual mayhem with all the family there.

When I came back there was about a quarter of the nut roast left.  While it was less than I had expected, I was happy that others enjoyed it too.  I even had Sylvia taste a little bit (under sufferance).  E was most complementary about the it.  The leftovers were taken home to be eaten in sandwiches with chutney.  Most pleasing.  This is definitely a nut roast I will make again.

I am sending this nut roast to Extra Veg, an event hosted by Jo's Kitchen this month, and coordinated by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

More cheesy nut roasts from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cheesy carrot nut roast
Chocolate nut roast
Cottage cheese and walnut nutloaf 
Smoky cheese and barley nut roast 
Stilton nut roast

More cheesy nut roasts from elsewhere:
Cheese cashew and walnut roast with sherry gravy - The Guardian newspaper
Mary Berry's aubergine five-nut roast recipe - Good To Know
Nut loaf - Umami Girl
Stuffed cashew nut roast - Gluten Free Alchemist
Tofu nut roast with swiss chard and goats’ cheese - Your Natural Health Expert

Carrot and Feta Nut Roast
Adapted from Woolworths website
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots (approx 350g), peeled and grated
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or other herbs)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup ground cashews (other nuts could be used)
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
2 eggs
100g feta, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper

Grease and line a loaf tin.  Preheat oven to 200 C.  Fry carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until carrots are changing colour to indicate they are cooked.  Add and cook the tomato for a minute or so until it softens.  Add spring onions, thyme and garlic and fry for a minute until fragrant.  Mix with remaining ingredients.  Check and adjust seasoning to taste.  Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top with the back of the spoon.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and centre feels firm to touch.  Serve warm or cool in tin.  Can be reheated for 30 minutes in the oven the next day (and will slice better if it sits overnight).

On the stereo
Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House

Friday, 10 April 2015

Easter egg chicks, Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad, and Chocolate carrots

I was speaking to a friend who told me her mother makes the same old dishes and it is never very exciting.  My mum loves to experiment, I told her.  Why for Easter lunch we had beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  She also had started on some chocolate carrots when I arrived on Easter Saturday.  I finished them off for her.  And I brought along some Easter egg chicks for my nieces and nephew.  It was a fun meal.  Not at all boring!

I have written about the carrot and feta nut roast I made for the family Easter lunch separately.  Instead I will share the beetroot, raspberry and feta salad.  I think my mum had eaten it in a restaurant.  It is one of those salads that should be tossed about to eat so all the flavours bounce off each other.  However I couldn't resist arranging slices of beetroot and making it a triumph of style over substance.  It looked a mess on the plate but tasted wonderful.  Sweet and salty and a little tart.

The nut roast and salad were served with a rather good cauliflower, pomegranate and rice salad, cauliflower cheese, roast potato and pumpkin and peas (and lots of meat for the carnivores).  I ate very well.

After the mains we had dessert.  My mum was quite restrained.  There were a lot of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns around after all.  So dessert was caramel tart, vanilla cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate carrots.  Lots of fuel for the kids who spent most of the day playing footy and cricket in the backyard.

The chocolate carrots were seen by my mum on the telly.  She had started them when I arrived but I was happy to help out with them while she got on with other dishes.  Mum had only managed to find smaller chocolate wafer sticks than she intended.  (The knife in the photo is like a steak knife to help you get a sense of size.)  The wafers got dipped a few times, and I was making little foil stands for them, even though the recipe said to just dip them once, lie them on baking paper to set and scrap little carrot marks on them.

The recipe suggested bagging up the 'carrots' with some crushed up biscuits to make 'dirt' and giving them as presents.  We wanted them in a dish for people to eat.  They didn't look bad without the chocolate dirt but it sounded like fun.  We made it by placing the rest of the wafers in a ziplock bag and rolling with a rolling pin.  Actually Sylvia and her cousin Ashy did it.  I wanted them to have the fun of bashing the wafers but remembered the dents in our table from crushing candy canes.

We tried to plant the carrots in the dirt in a small bowl but they would not stand up.  Then I just ended up putting them around the edge of a bowl of dirt with a few in the middle.  The kids loved them.  When they asked why carrots I told them because it was International Carrot Day on Easter Saturday.  Much talk ensued with the kids about what other international days might be celebrated.  I will spare you the scatological details but I can assure you they made me laugh.  And they loved telling me they were eating their vegies while they ate chocolate!

Even more fun was the Easter egg hunt.  You may remember last year that my dad orchestrated a colour coded egg hunt where each child had a different coloured egg.  This year he surpassed himself and had a different flavoured egg for each child and drew their names out of a hat.

The children had great fun hunting the eggs between main course and dessert.  Not only did they help each other find eggs but they also had a great time swapping eggs at the end of the hunt so each kid had a variety of eggs.  The hiding was rather tricky and two eggs were still unaccounted for at the end of the hunt.  I must remember to check if they have been found yet.  Perhaps they will be discovered by an archeologist many years from now!

But let us return to the home made chocolate goodies.  Did I mention that my mum played me a video clip of the chocolate carrots being made on the telly.  It looked far easier than it was.  The same might be said for the Easter egg chicks that Sylvia and I made for her cousins.  Both used coloured chocolate buttons, which neither my mum nor I had.

My mum did ok with colouring the white chocolate but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the food dye and the chocolate seized.  It was no longer for dipping or pouring but worked well if you wanted to play with it like playdough.  Which is what I did.  I made flat tongues of orange chocolate that I could chop into beaks and feet.  I had planned to pour the coloured chocolate onto baking paper and chopping it when just set so in a way this was easier and quicker.

Making the chicks was much easier once we had worked on the white chocolate.  The recipe called for Creme Eggs.  There were none to be found in the supermarket when I looked so we bought Cadbury's Marvellous Creations eggs because I thought they were roughly the same size and might be sturdier than other eggs (having popping candy and smarties in the chocolate).

It was only towards the end that I realised I had misunderstood the instructions and hence put the eggs on an upturned bowl.  Having the baking paper meant I didn't really need the bowl.

Sylvia helped me make the chicks so I gave up having them perfect.  However I can't blame her for all the imperfections because I didn't do a great job either.  Using melted milk chocolate and white chocolate buttons was a recipe for smudgy milk chocolate fingerprints on the eyes.  At one point I just removed some smudgy eggs before they set but I didn't manage it for others.

My other great failing was drawing on eyes with an icing pen.  I could blame the pen but I suspect my technique could do with some improvement.  I found it hard to draw a black dot on the eyes without the pen dragging black icing everywhere.  Honestly it would be easier to stick down a tiny lolly like a Junior Mint or some chopped liquorice.

I had meant to wrap each egg in cellophane to give out but they looked so cute.  So I just put them out on a plate.  Then I put them in ziplock bags when the kids were going home.  They received a lot of excited exclamations and Sylvia was very proud of her handywork.

I am sending the Easter egg chicks to Choclette at Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa.  The theme is No Bake.  I am sending the chocolate carrots to Kat at Baking Explorer (and Stuart at CakeyBoi) for Treat Petite.  This month the theme is Hello Spring.  And finally I am sending the salad to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays and Karen at Lavender and Lovage for Cooking with Herbs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Gwyneth's Apple Muffins and the rainy school holidays
Two year ago: Couscous salad and reflections on the week
Three years ago: PPN Holiday cooking - Nut Roast and Pasta Napoletana
Four years ago: PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake
Five years ago: Butterscotch Bounty from Ricki
Six years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
Seven years ago: Posh chocolate orange biscuits

Beetroot, raspberry and feta salad
From my mum

250g cooked and peeled baby beetroot (vacuum sealed)
125g raspberries
50g creamy feta
1-3 tsp mint leaves
caramelised balsamic vinegar

Thinly slice wedges of beetroot and arrange on serving plate.  Arrange raspberries and crumble feta over beetroot.  Scatter with mint leaves.  Drizzle with vinegar and serve.

White chocolate carrots
From Better Homes and Gardens

Chocolate wafer sticks
White chocolate buttons
Orange and green food colouring

Melt some white chocolate and colour orange with some drops of food colouring.  Place above a small saucepan of hot water to keep the chocolate warm and melted.  Spoon melted chocolate over three quarters of wafers.  Place on baking paper to set.

NOTES: If desired dip again once set.  I found that the chocolate was rather thick and swirling the sticks against the side of the bowl ensured not too much chocolate on it and left rather carroty horizontal lines.  I also found it better to cool the chocolate with the uncoated part of the wafers stuck upside in a little pocket made in a piece of foil.  They didn't take long to be set enough to be able to place on baking paper so that that they were still round.

Melt some white chocolate and colour green with drops of food colouring.  Place above hot water as with orange chocolate.  Dip remaining ends of wafers in green chocolate (or spoon chocolate over it) and set in either foil pockets or on baking paper.

NOTES: the chocolate was quite thick and I found it good to use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over ends and then scrape it off so there were vertical lines like carrot tops.

Easter egg chicks
From A Mummy Too

Medium Easter eggs
Milk chocolate melts
White chocolate melts
Orange chocolate melts or yellow and red food colouring
Icing pen

If you don't have orange melts, mix some white chocolate with red and yellow food colouring to make orange chocolate.  Cut triangles out of the white chocolate.  (Mine seized which made it easy to mould but if yours behaves then you may need to spread it on baking paper and let it mostly set before chopping.)

Melt a handful of the milk chocolate melts.  Place the bowl over hot water to keep it melted.  
Place a piece of baking paper on a tray. Dab a blob of chocolate on the paper.  Place an egg in the blob.  Arrange two orange melts or triangles in the melted chocolate at the base and hold the egg until the chocolate firms up.

Dab some melted chocolate on two white melts and arrange on the eggs towards the top like eyes.  Hold until the chocolate holds it there.  Repeat with two milk chocolate melts and arrange as wings on the side, a triangle between the white chocolate eyes to be the beak and a triangle at the top to be the comb.

Draw black dots on the eyes with an icing pen.

Leave chicks so the chocolate sets firmly before sharing with your friends and family.

On the Stereo:
Chants, Hymns and Dances: Gurdjieff and Tsabropoulos